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Annie Stayed


Boone and Annie.

Grieving. Grieving heavily. It was Annie. Annie who has been with me through it all, quiet, loving, never complaining, always in the background as if to say, “I’m here if you need me but I’ll just let you get through it until you do.” Annie, who let me use her for a pillow, drape my legs over her to take a nap, who stepped aside when Boone came in and just let him be the number one dog, knowing that she would just BE THERE hanging out waiting for when I needed her. Annie, who let me cry into her fur and hold her and just sat patiently while I did. Annie, who was scared of everyone else but Tom, Kaity and me, but knew, completely knew, that we would protect her and never let anyone hurt her again.

Annie appeared about ten years ago. We were living on a farm in Richmond, Ky. I went outside to see Kaity petting this furry red puppy, a true redhead, who had come up the driveway. She sat by Kaity, but wouldn’t let me near her. She was scared, scared to death. 

“Can I keep her Mommy?”

“You’ll have to ask your Dad, and you know how that will go.” He wasn’t a dog person. Never was. Never would be.

Kaity named her Annie. “Because she has red hair and she’s an orphan.”

He came home from work that day and true to form demanded that Annie be taken to the pound. I have such a vivid picture of little Kaity sitting out by the fire pit, puppy Annie by her side, sobbing. But Annie stayed. Annie stayed through it all.

Annie was shy. Not by nature, half-Chow, but by life, abused before we got her. It was obvious immediately. For the first several months, she would only let Kaity near her. She jumped, ran and hid at the slightest noise. To get her to go through a door you had to stand way back and hold it wide open (Did they kick her going out of doors?). She would easily let any of the other dogs take anything away from her. Nothing was worth arguing about to Annie. She was a puppy but never played. Toys were just an excuse for another dog to come near her and she wanted no part of that.  I promised her, as long as I had breath in my body, no one would ever hurt her again. Annie just stayed.

She flourished at the farm, running through fields and through woods, with Zoey, then Izzabel. Never the leader, always the follower, always careful, they chased cows, brought home an array of dead animals, caught frogs, swam in the pond and smiled, always smiled—happy dogs.

Annie stayed through a succession of other dogs. Toby, who lived a long wonderful life, whose life was prolonged by moving to the farm, died an old man of 15 in my arms of congestive heart failure. And while I grieved, it was Toby’s time.

Zoey... I went to the store, I was only gone an hour, and when I came back my first words to Annie were, “Annie, why are you here and Zoey isn’t?” That launched a several month search for Zoey, heartrending, only to finally find her decomposing on the railroad tracks. We think she was poisoned or got into poison somewhere. Annie was there.

Jenny Lynn, who was mean, who locked her jaws on Annie’s back over a bone and I had to pry away. Jenny Lynn DID go to the pound. I hope they put her down. We loved her, but she was mean and would eventually hurt someone. Rocky, the Dalmation from down the road. His owner, a young guy, was beating him so badly that Rocky came up the driveway one day just dragging his hips behind him. I found a Dalmation rescue for Rocky. He went to live on the beach in North Carolina. The woman sent me one picture, of Rocky in a fire truck in a parade. We did good by Rocky. And Izzabel, who, when I fled Richmond, got thrown into the backseat of a car to go live with new owners, a horrible thing to do to her, but something we thought we had to do at the time. And through all of that, there was Annie, quiet, shy and scared. But Annie stayed.

The first time Tom met Annie, he quietly crouched down and just looked at her. He didn’t reach out to her, he didn’t try to pet her, he didn’t say anything to her, he just looked at her on her level. She immediately trusted him. From his past owning wolves, he said. She saw the wolf spirit in him and trusted him. Immediately, Annie decided he was okay, he would never hurt her, and she loved him.



Elizabeth Steele lives in Lexington, Ky.

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